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As the Clayton Members Club & Hotel debuted this spring in Cherry Creek, the property also opened two on-site restaurants, Of A Kind and Oak Market. But in addition to these open-to-the-public dining establishments, Clayton also offers something unique: two private restaurants on the building’s rooftop and the second floor, respectively. These unnamed spots are only accessible to hotel guests and members of Clayton’s social membership club (and their invited guests), which is intended to be a diverse, inclusive community for Denverites.
Social clubs—think: country clubs, fraternities, and sororities—are not new. But the newest wave of membership clubs, already popular internationally and in U.S. cities like New York and Los Angeles, has made its way to the Mile High City—and they’re offering private restaurants as a big perk of joining. Another members-only club, X Denver, is also opening this summer with an 11th-floor, full-service lounge and restaurant that’s only accessible to members and residents (X Denver doubles as an apartment complex). Led by chef Jason Jones, the restaurant offers a full beverage menu, grab-and-go foods, bar snacks, and made-to-order dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner like smoked salmon toast and grilled Thai chicken kabobs.
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Inside Clayton’s second-floor restaurant, members can dine on house-cured lox, quinoa bowls with roasted vegetables, salmon with preserved lemon yogurt and farro salad, and grilled steak with chimichurri. Members and their guests, as well as patrons staying in the 63-room boutique hotel, also have access to Clayton’s modern social spaces, lounges, coworking areas, fitness center, and more than 150 events each year, including parties and arts, culinary, and kids programming.
At the upstairs spot, members and hotel guests can snack on artisan, wood-fired pizzas and flatbreads, enjoy boozy brunches (complete with party-ready Champagne guns and personalized poolside coolers), and sip frozé all day at the rooftop restaurant, bar, and pool, which offers views of the mountains and downtown. The rooftop menu, built primarily around the space’s wood-fired oven and Spanish charcoal grill, also features dishes like avocado toast, hummus, nuts and olives, salads, and grilled fish.
“It’s fun to see the cooks working in the wood-fired oven and grills and the fire—it’s a really cool experience,” says Clayton’s executive chef Brandon Duley. “It’s fun to have a hook for one of the member outlets that’s really attractive and to get people interested in checking out the space.”
Whether members-only restaurants catch on in Denver remains to be seen. But in the meantime—and for those who can’t afford the club’s $1,800 to $3,000 yearly membership dues (plus joining fees of up to $500)—you can still savor Duley’s penchant for bright, punchy flavors and farmers’ market-sourced produce at Clayton’s all-day eatery, Oak Market, and full-service restaurant, Of A Kind. (Five Nines, Clayton’s cocktail bar set to launch in June, will also be open to the public.)
The Of A Kind menu is full of shareable, Mediterranean- and California-inspired dishes like chicken shawarma hummus with wood-fired pita, braised meatballs with pomodoro sauce, and grilled branzino with dill caper vinaigrette. Many of the restaurant’s dishes heavily feature or are garnished with the pickled and fermented vegetables—and their brines—that Duley and his team make in-house, such as snap peas with mint and lemon peel, Mediterranean kimchi with sumac and herbs, and leeks with jalapeño and horseradish. The restaurant’s bar team also incorporates some of the brines into cocktails.
“Coming from California, I’m just pretty health-conscious, so a lot of the food I’m doing is not super heavy but it’s strong,” says 35-year-old Duley. “I like high acid. I use vinegars a lot. I use pickles and fermented products. I like the way it wakes you up and slaps you in the face a little bit. It’s really healthy for you, it’s really good for you, but it’s also refreshing and acidic and fun to eat.”